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Rick Warren Out, Openly gay bishop Gene Robinson In? Seriously?

Robinson, 61, said both Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden will attend the event, and Obama is expected to speak. As for himself, Robinson said he doesn’t yet know what he’ll say, but he knows he won’t use a Bible.

“While that is a holy and sacred text to me, it is not for many Americans,” Robinson said. “I will be careful not to be especially Christian in my prayer. This is a prayer for the whole nation.”

Read the whole thing here

This past year I have read Internet Monk….. almost daily, before checking almost any other blogs. So I’m not being glib or just name-dropping when I reccomend that you check out his last post on American Evangelism, and while you are there check out his last few months of blogging. It’s some of the most real, up close and personal, and honest writing I have seen on the web, as well being “spiritually edifying”. Check it out.

answering-atheism_blogspot

Check out the new resource of books, debates, essays, and general apologetics here at Atheism Is Dead. Mariano seems to have been putting quite  a bit of work into it.

I have literally forgotten that I even HAD a blog for a couple months now. It was very easy to not think about it, with lots of things going on in the life of Anthony Franklin.

Lots of work and projects around the house. Lots of family time, and work. Lots of personal struggling, drama, and spiritual frustration.

But as I read back over things I have written during the span of the last year, I wonder what spiritual drought I am in that has me wondering almost outloud “who” this person was that wrote these things? I feel as if I was reading the thoughts of a different person.

Is it possible to be spiritually moved by your own past writings, and not out of arrogance or pride?

Is it possible for your own written words to be the catalyst to draw you back to long-forgotten passion and devotion?

 

I am going to ponder these things. Maybe the things I write in the future will be more humble in nature.

I haven’t actually written a blog post in several weeks. I haven’t been terribly busy in comparison, but things have been crazy.

I admit I nearly let this blog die, but I’m still getting hits here and there, and I have a lot of things I want to write about- I just have to force myself to sit still long enough to do it.

Expect some new posting in the weeks to come.

The following is a conversation this past weekend that I had with a guy at a church booth set up at our town’s Spring Festival. From all appearances, it is a small church that is relatively new and meeting in a shopping center down the street from my own church.

 

Me: “Hi, aren’t you guys right down the street from the elementary school?”

 

Pastor guy: “Yes sir we are. How are you today?”

 

Me: (I pretend to look at tract) “Good. Oh, so you guys are Free Will Baptist huh?”

 

Pastor guy: “Oh, well we’re our own unique church. We planted it.”

 

Me: “But there’s a Free Will Baptist church less than a mile down the road from where you guys are at, and there’s another one right by my house another mile or two away. It seems like there is already a lot of Free Will Baptist churches in this area, why a new one?

 

Pastor guy: (a bit suprised) “Well the more hooks you put out, the more souls you are likely to catch”

 

Me: “Hmm, but I think there are almost 400 churches in this county alone, and less than 200,000 people living here. That means if every single person alive and breathing in this county went to church then you would have less than 500 people per church.”

 

Pastor guy: (suprised) “Well, I guess we’re trying to reach our 500 then….”

 

Me: “But, it’s probably less than 20 percent that go to church regularly, so that means less than 100 people per church. In your experience does your church make new converts, or just…. Cannibalize members from other churches?”

 

Pastor guy: (slightly offended) “Well that’s not what we are trying to do! We are trying to win souls! The more areas that we have churches in, then the more people we can bring into the Kingdom” he explains.

 

Me: “Kind of like the McDonalds approach? Put a church on every corner, and people will come?”

 

Pastor guy: Well, yeah!”

 

Me:“But it also seems like if every church has fewer than 100 members then they probably pay for a pastor and secretary, and for a building of some kind, and that’s it. It hardly seems efficient to have hundreds of buildings and salaries to pay for, and not be able to plant churches where they are greatly needed or fund missions or outreach with that money. It kind of takes our eyes off the big picture and focuses them only on ourselves.”

 

Pastor guy’s wife: (Getting uncomfortable) “Well, we’ve been doing this for 33 years…”

 

Other than pleasantries and discussing small group models for churches and other things, I just left it at that because I felt like I had worn out their graciousness.

 

Sigh, but this church growth thing in America has gotten out of hand. I mean, this guy is Free Will Baptist, They have a bazillion churches around here. Does he work with these guys, maybe start a small group in an area or something to reach new people and maybe bring new people into existing churches? No he wants to start his own thing, be independent, an island unto himself.

 

I don’t understand it. I’m reformed, and in the PCA. We have only 3 churches in this entire county out of nearly 400 churches total. We team up for things, our pastors know one another. I would practically pee myself if we could have unity with other denominations that are similar (like the ARP) or had more people in this area we were similar enough to work with. That very opportunity is laid right before this guy and he runs from it.

 

But maybe that’s the problem to begin with, that is….. we have way, way, way too many churches all trying to execute their own very narrow vision or accomplish their own inwardly focused goals while ignoring everyone else around them. There’s no “finger on the pulse” of the area’s spiritual needs because everyone’s limited to seeing just their own little slice of it.

 

Which begs the question, with plenty of churches just cruising along focused on themselves, I wonder what happens when theres a problem within the church? Does it split and half of it defects to other churches? Or will some start new churches that will run the way THEY want them to? Either way, I think as a result; the original church would of course be smaller and likely suffering to pay its bills so it probably focuses even MORE inwardly and stops growing physically, and if it becomes frustrated with its new challenges it can stop growing spiritually completely.

 

Meanwhile, the churches who just grew from absorbing members from this afflicted church think they are doing something right, think their new growth is a sign they’re on the right track, so they pat themselves on the back and probably becomes complacent and inwardly focused. Overall, absolutely no progress has been made. If anything, people become disallusioned in the process from the politics and power struggles. I just described half the churches family members or myself went to as a child.

 

 I love the words Thomas Pollock wrote over 100 years ago in Jesus, With Thy Church Abide:

 

“May she one in doctrine be

One in truth, and charity

Winning all to faith in Thee

We beseech Thee, hear us

We beseech Thee, hear us.”

 

“May she guide the poor and blind

Seek the lost until she find

And the broken hearted bind

We beseech Thee, hear us

We beseech Thee, hear us.”

Derek Webb and wife Sandra McCracken finally releasing a collaboration EP.

But even after eight years of personal and professional collaboration, thirteen albums, a marriage, and a new baby, the one thing McCracken and Webb had never done together successfully was write songs.  When asked why, Webb jokes, “The majority of co-writing we’d done up to this point pretty much resulted in marriage counseling.”

The future of the Christian music industry and predictions by Chris Peacock.

A blogger’s perspective to the present Myanmar crisis.

And finally, John Piper on abortion.

I just finished reading an R.C. Sproul book at rapid pace, and as good as it was, all the Latin words and theological terms (even if I grasp them) have sent my head reeling, especially with all the other not-so-theological things running around in my mind lately. Even rather than eating up the words of my own pastor this past Sunday, I felt my mind wandering. I suppose I am in theological burnout, because I feel that if I have to endure reading any more speculative or systematic theology for a while I will scream. So as encouraging as it is, I’m putting down the book of Phillipians in favor of John’s Gospel, and figuratively exchanging the exchanges of Romans for some meditative Psalms….. for now anyway.

So it was with a bit of hesitancy that I took down J.I. Packers Knowing God from the bookshelf to tear into.  I was hoping it to be more pastoral and encouraging than anything else. I love Packer’s endearing writing style, and something he said in the first couple dozen pages really spoke to me:

“We need to ask ourselves: what is my ultimate aim and object in occupying my mind with these things (theology)? What do I intend to do with my knowledge about God, once I have got it? For the fact that we have to face is this: that if we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited. The very greatness of the subject matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and grasp of it; and we shall look down on those whose theological ideas seem to us crude and inadequate, and dismiss them as very poor specimens. To be preoccupied with getting theological knowledge as an end in itself, to approach Bible study with no higher a motive than a desire to know all the answers, is the direct route to a state of self-satisfied self-deception….. there can be no spiritual health without doctrinal knowledge; but it is equally true that there can be no spiritual health with it, if it is sought for the wrong purpose and valued by the wrong standard.”

 

Here’s a story from CNN about how the economic recession (or “downturn” depending on who you ask)means higher sales for stores that deal in “gently used” clothes and goods, i.e. recycling. http://money.cnn.com/2008/03/03/news/companies/recession_recycling/index.htm?section=money_mostpopular

Isn’t this something we should do anyway? Why wait around to find someone to give away old clothes to, clothes that were bought at high retail prices. Or worse, why throw away something that could be of use to someone else? We need to be mindful of other people, in sacrificial ways, and in ways that cost us nothing but only require a bit of time and thought. Unfortunately it seems to take economic hardships to shock people out of their spend, consume, and throw-away lifestyles.

But Christians could lead this. Does your church have a food ministry that takes advantage of scratch and dent food from nearby grocers that would otherwise be thrown out, do you have a clothes closet for those in need, do you have a bulletin board to offer goods that are unneeded within the congregation?

My church does none of these things, so these are challenges to explore in the future for us.

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Also “An Efficient Gospel?” http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2008/001/3.19.html 

and “Bridging the Gap” http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2008/001/5.65.html are worth a read.

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